The arrival of the new gTLD .Bank has created quite a fuss in the banking industry, with thousands of financial institutions applying for this new industry-related extension.

First-up was Barclays, who announced last May they were  dumping the traditional location-specific .com and web addresses and transfering their online assets to proprietary domain names: .barclays and .barclaycard. And now we learn than more than 500 European banks and financial institutions – including Santander, Spain’s BBVA, or Rothschild – have registered to apply for the new, restricted domain name .BANK.

There’s no doubt that new extensions like .bank or .brand provide new opportunities – and new challenges – for online activities in the financial services sector but, why are the big financial institution taking such a positive approach to their new gTLDs? The main motivation behind it is digital security. Financial institutions are increasingly apprehensive of the potentiality of online scammers to use their domain names to attract and deceive unsuspecting web users, and these new gTLDs have become a great way to ensure their digital assets.

Why .Bank is the real game-changer?

The goal of the .bank domain extension is to provide a new way for financial companies to better identify their websites with their clients and boost consumer confidence. In order to achieve this, this new industry-related gTLD is only available for verified banks, credit unions, and other qualifying financial institutions. What is more, the .bank domain will be managed by a financial industry advocacy group, ensuring that all websites ending with .bank are owned by real banks conducting real business with consumers around the world.

At a consumer level, this is great news. It will create a simplified online user experience, helping the customers to identify immediately a genuine business. Also, it will make it more difficult for criminals to create bogus emails from a .bank address or mirror websites, which will reduce phishing cases and will help the genuine banks protect users private data and confidential financial information. This will, ultimately, give individuals an unprecedented level of confidence in digital banking.

It could be a long process

The transition from one domain to another, including the transfer of all the online infrastructure, is not easy and/or fast, so we may need to be patient. But, while these changes may be slow to come, the number of applications for .bank domains does indicate that banks are moving in the right direction, demonstrating their awareness of the essential need for protecting their digital assets if they are to protect their customers. And until that time comes, it is highly recommended that businesses operating in the financial industry, and who wish to protect their digital assets, reputation and customers, should invest in trademark monitoring to avoid losses from opportunistic scammers.

Since the new generic top level domains (gTLDs) started being released last year, there has been an inevitable question in many brand managers and marketeers heads: will they have an impact upon Search?

It is not crazy to think that if you own a web address that best describes your business or brand it should have a positive impact upon search. At the end of the day, these new gTLDs are often exact matches to keywords. However, when asked, Google’s staff was categorical in their answer: new gTLDs won’t be a ranking factor. When choosing which sites to display higher it will continue to be about the site content relevance, independent of the domain name.

But, a year after these new top level domains arrived, we now have the empirical evidence needed to confirm that Google’s prediction was incorrect. After tracking and studying for 16 months the Search Engine Marketing effects that the New gTLD domain name extensions are having on the industry, GlobeRunner found compelling evidence that new domain names are converting at a much higher rate than the traditional ones.

The American consultancy created two Google ads, which were exactly the same except for the display URL. In their case study they compared the display URLs vs. The first results of the research, published almost a year and a half ago, showed that domains of new extensions were converting at about 34 percent, and .COMs were converting at about 52 percent. However, nowadays the panorama is very different (and favorable for the new gTLDs): new domain extensions are converting at more or less the same rate but, .COM domains are converting now at a record low, of nearly 20 percent.

Previous to this study, SEO experts all over the world had been tracking the new domains behaviour on Search, and most of them concluded that these new extensions did have some degree of impact upon search engine rankings. However the results gathered by those were not as conclusive as what GlobeRunner is presenting now. So yes, we can now loudly say that there is a positive SEO effect. Even if some time ago EMD (Exact Match Domains) stopped being part of Google’s ranking algorithm, the search engine mission is to show relevant results to your search and, it seems that domain names with descriptive words (both before and after the dot) are a great indicator of the relevance of the result.
However, we can not forget that, at the end of the day, what matters most when ranking well in Google is the quality of your site. Even if the SEO aspect of the new gTLDs is a great aspect to bear in mind when purchasing a domain with one of the new extensions and optimising one’s brand’s domain portfolio, it is not the only thing one should take into consideration. Domain names are essential digital assets in today’s digitised world. They have to be considered worth protecting as an integral part of a business brand protection strategy. Reinforcing your brand’s digital footprint will ultimately strengthen your brand’s digital presence.

This last week, the 10th Anniversary of the Brand Protection and Anti Counterfeiting Summit took place in Berlin, with focus on subjects such as how to reduce online counterfeiting, how to dismantle, deter, detect and prevent copyright theft and what enforcement strategies are used to overcome global infringement.

Over the past 10 years, this event has hosted over 1000 leaders from 70 different countries, becoming one of the most important events of its kind set in Europe. Always bringing fresh ideas on how to maximise protection in the businesses and avoid counterfeit, one thing that can be relied on is the quality of the Whitepapers created every year ahead of the Summit by the event organizer Legal IQ.

This year, they interviewed brand protection experts from the three most counterfeited industries: Fashion, Film and Sporting Goods. The goal was to gather an understanding of how they fight counterfeit activity in their business. The Fashion sector was represented by Victoria Swedjemark of Björn Borg AB; while talking about the Film and Sporting Goods industries were Kieron Sharp (Federation Against Copyright Theft) and Dr Jochen Schaefer, Legal Counsel of World Confederation of Sporting Goods.

According to them there are 5 areas you need to possess complete understanding of in order to protect and maintain the integrity of your products: Strategy, Framework, Execution, Pitfalls, Status. These are some of the tips they shared:

1. Strategy: The first and, perhaps, most important pillar is to have a strong and well-defined strategy. From taking a pragmatic approach when dealing with the issue, to being sure you have your rights protected at the source, there’s no one single defined path to follow here. You should find the strategy that best fits to your brand. However, all the interviewed agreed on one point: you should employ the right legal partners, people “who understand the online environment and use intelligence and information in the right way”.
2. Framework, or how you should organise your strategy. Firstly, decide what your primary brand is. Secondly, monitor activities, learn from previous experiences (of your own and of others that may have been in similar situations) and file for trademark where necessary.
3. Execution: a constant monitoring is basic in any brand protection strategy, always keep in mind that your goal is to obtain evidence that proves criminal enterprises are doing something illegal. Also, do not forget that if you are operating in different territories, your strategy should vary in accordance with the law of these territories.
4. Pitfalls: Knowing which battles are worth going after and being able to get the timing and balance of protection right are important considerations. You may encounter difficulties throughout the processes, but being aware of them and being able to define them before they happen will surely help your goals.
5. Status: The importance of the brand protection is an issue that is gaining increased awareness by most brands. Recent government and parliament recognition helps to protect the status of your assets or content, fighting against counterfeit and piracy.

With an estimated magnitude of over $600 billion (and growing), the trafficking of counterfeit goods worldwide is constantly an important issue for brands all over the world. When working out how to minimise brand protection abuse, every company should count with a strong brand protection strategy that defends its assets from the very beginning. So when creating and developing this strategy it is extremely important to deal with the right legal experts, who understand what your brand needs are, what to monitor and when to take legal actions against infringers.

Despite their slow start, the new legal gTLDs, .’legal’ and .’law’, are full of opportunities

The new gTLDs focus in the legal field started some months ago, full of expectations and promised opportunities for law professionals. Domains like .law, .legal, .lawyer or .attorney were created in order to provide relevant, credible, and targeted TLDs for law firms, attorneys and other related business. However, they appear to have gotten off to a slow start, at least in the opinion of World Trademark Review.

According to a recent research carried out by this news platform, law firms are taking a “tentative approach” to their new gTLD digital space. For their analysis, focused on the “54 law firms that are agents of the Trademark Clearinghouse, acting on the assumption that they are acutely aware of the ongoing gTLD rollout”. They wanted to know the percentage of them that had registered their domain, or a similar one, containing their brand name with any of the newest extensions .LEGAL (that operates as an open LDT) and .LAW. (only licensed lawyers can register).

Surprisingly, only a quarter of the sample studied registered the equivalent of their key domain name in either of the strings. To put this into numbers: a mere 28% of the law firms studied had registered a dot law domain name, while only 24% of them chose the dot legal extension. On the other hand, only 11% of those firms registered both strings.

Why is this surprising?

First of all because of the low number of registrations. .’legal’, that is owned by Donuts, went into general availability in March 2015 and so far has 6,500 registrations. On the other hand, .Law, which is owned by Minds + Machines, went into general availability on the 12th of October and has at this time only over 3,000 registrations. The other two bigger gTLDs, .’lawyer’ and .’attorney’, add up together to a total of 24,500 registrations. Even if the number per se doesn’t look bad for domains that have gone on sale quite recently, we have to consider that there are more than 1.2 million attorneys in the US alone.

Considering that .LEGAL is an open LDT, one would think that law firms would have chosen to secure their name to avoid it being purchased by third parties. If you have a law firm with an established brand, or if you are an attorney with an established name, you need to protect your assets and registering your firm’s name with one of these extensions is a very good investment which should be taken in order to protect yourself and your name.

However, we still think that the .Law registrations, even if there are a little more expensive than .Legal ones, are quite low. As we have seen .Law (and .lawyer and .attorney as well) requires a validation of legal credentials. This will not only create a sense of trust in your online visitors but the other idea behind it is to give a the search engines an additional trust factor (even though it is still very early to look for evidence of this).

In conclusion, what should a law firm or attorney pursue when registering its domain with one of this new gTLDs? First of all security, to protect your digital assets from cybersquatters, but also to build trust with potential customers.  Most of these new suffixes are a great way to signal to clients and colleagues the presence of a serious legal professional behind it.

What happens when a big multinational company discover that it’s trademark name is being used in a fraudulent way by another business? Should legal action be taken in order to protect its brand?

This occurred some months ago, in April 2015, when a very well-known fashion brand sued an Indian Tapas Restaurant for Trademark infringement. The fashion brand in question was the internationally renowned fashion retailer, Zara and the parties involved were Inditex Group, the Spanish company that owns the famous clothing brand ZARA, and  the Chennai based restaurant, “Zara Tapas Bar”.

It could look like Inditex was taking advantage of its position as a multinational giant in order to create a monopoly over the Trademark term. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A brand name is one of the most important intangible assets that a company owns, and should be protected against any action that may discredit it.

This is also the view of the Delhi High Court who ruled in favour of the clothing brand, ordering the restaurant to change its name. The defendant’s main argument was not successful: they claimed that, considering that both companies functioned in different areas of service, it was unlikely that it would cause any confusion amongst potential clients. And, even if this argument could have been valid in any other scenario, the Court Members concluded that the defendants wanted to benefit from the reputation and goodwill of the plaintiff.

The 2 main factors that the Court took into consideration when siding with the Spanish multinational were:

  1. The nature of use of the mark. The Defendant claimed that they were not using the mark ZARA per se, but “Zara Tapas Bar”. However, as its website and pages of social networking showed, it was mostly promoting the brand with emphasis on Zara rather the entire mark Zara Tapas Bar. Moreover, the Defendant associated itself with Spanish products (Tapas), where the plaintiff’s brand originates from. Clearly, leveraging the brand equity built up by Zara (the fashion brand) was demonstrated.
  2. The mark becoming Publici Juris (of public right). The Defendants argued that the mark had became common property and even provided a list of marks containing the name Zara. However, the Court stated that it is the choice of the plaintiff to take legal actions against infringers if they perceive it necessary.

So Trademark infringements can be found between companies operating in different industries, even if, as we have seen, neither them nor their goods and/or services, present any similarities at all. To avoid confusion and future problems it is always recommended to count on a good domain management strategy from the very beginning.

In conclusion, what does this mean for brand owners? Monitoring keywords pertaining to your brand is essential in today’s digital age. Investing a little will save a lot in the long run. Proactively enforcing a brand protection strategy is crucial when protecting your brand and digital assets.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
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New gTLD: .SEX

There’s a new gTLD in town, and get ready because it is a big one. Since last week, it is possible to register .SEX domains at registrars. With this new addition, ICM Registry, who operates already the same theme domains .XXX, .ADULT and .PORN, takes control of a new and lucrative TLD.

With over 300 million searches for sex-related topics a month (this is, approximately, the 30% of the total internet traffic), sex has become the most searched topic of the web and adult-only websites one of the biggest revenue generators. That’s not really a surprise, if we consider that most of internet user are adults and a high proportion of them consume, at some point, adult material. Given this, there’s no doubt that the demand for more virtual space for the adult industry will keep growing. The creation of this new top level domain .SEX, arrives in order to fulfil this insatiable demand.

However, it is expected that not only pornography and adult related sites will get use of this domain name. Also health and safety related websites and educational sites can benefit from it. Sites promoting safe sex or websites about sexual education can find in dot sex an effective way of reaching new audiences while facilitating the identification of these informational sites for users.

But… what does .SEX mean for the big brands out there?

Basically, loads of headaches. .SEX is a very appealing domain for those engage in Cybersquatting. So in order to protect their brand and avoid the misuse of the brand name by third parties, this companies need to be fast. And not only companies need to be careful with this, also individuals can also be considered as a ‘brand’. Let’s think about Taylor Swift, who not so long ago purchased and in order to protect her name and brand. A good Digital Brand Protection strategy is essential nowadays.

So, with over 4.000 dot sex domains presold, we have to wonder, how many of them were actually bought by non erotic related big companies.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
For more information email: brand

Brand hi-jacking appears to be on the rise in the US political sphere of late. Over the past year, many political candidates have used domain names as ammunition in their PR campaigns. Carly Fiorina’s (former CEO of HP) recent campaign in the US presidency race was thwarted by failing to register relevant domain names for her presidential campaign. The result? Another party purchased and registered the domain name to deliberately post disparaging comments about her past history, in particular her role in laying off approximately 30,000 Hewlitt Packard employees.

In the most recent of attacks on personal brands, US legislator for the state of Louisiana Steve Carter, has been the most recent victim. Following a failure to renew the domain before it’s expiration date, Carter’s opponent , Robert Cipriano purchased the domain and subsequently transferred the rights to an un-named party.

As it stands right now, online visitors to the website might be a little shocked by the content currently posted which essentially criticises every policy, action and legislative decision made by Carter during his time in office. The wholly unflattering content accuses him of increasing taxes, reckless spending of public finances and playing a major part in the demise of Louisiana’s state school system. In essence, the website represent an unwavering attack on Carter’s personal ‘brand’. The cases of Carly Fiorina and Steve Carter are not unique. Increasingly digital assets (domain names, social media profiles, etc…) are being harnessed as tools to damage and defame the digital presence of political opponents. Indeed, Donald Trump registered three thousand new domains this week alone, adding to his mammoth existing portfolio.

What can brand’s at large learn from these digital oversights?

Both cases listed above further reinforce the significance of domain names as valuable and powerful digital real estate in today’s online world. Brands, whether of a business or personal nature, are increasingly becoming more aware of the far reaching potentiality of digital assets like domain names and indeed intangible assets like online reputation.Such assets hold immense positive or negative potential depending on how they are used. Preparing your digital brand protection strategy has never been more important.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
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The .WINE gTLD has been given the go ahead from ICANN after many months of debate. Although we are still waiting for the official registry operator to be announced, the news is being met with both positive and negative sentiment from the online community.

On the one hand, many wine producers, wholesalers, businesses and connoisseurs are excited by this new development. A .wine extension will allow for wine aficionado’s to carve out a defined namespace on the internet to build and grow online communities and followers with similar interests and passions. Indeed for both established brands and scaling SME’s in the wine industry, the .wine (and indeed .vin) gTLD will help in promoting their products, services and online communities in the digital landscape.

Many wine based brands endorse this new domain extension anticipating that it will further cement trust between online consumers and distributers/wholesalers and further increase competition between online businesses. For online consumers and wine connoisseurs, the TLD will allow quick access to wine related info, experienced bloggers and trusted distributers.

On the other hand, the decision to release the gTLD didn’t come without some form of protest. Ministerial representatives from both the French, Australian and US governments were overtly against the release of the domain extension. They feared that releasing this particular gTLD for public registration may put trade agreements regarding the sale of region specific products at risk. GI (geographic indication) products describe specific products from specific areas of the world. For instance, ‘champagne’ is only officially made in Champagne, France. Many established successful brands with official GI status feared that the new gTLD’s may cause consumer confusion. This, they anticipate, will affect their online sales, consumer relationships and ultimately their bottom line.

Regardless of the apprehension voiced by Australia, France and the US, ICANN have endorsed the release of .WINE and .VIN. Time will only tell whether it was a good move or not!

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
For more information email: brand

Choosing and registering a domain name is an essential part of designing your website as it is the stepping point from which you create your brand. In regard to choosing a memorable and catchy domain name, choosing an effective keyword is crucial as keyword optimisation effects your brand’s online presence. It is critical that you choose a striking domain name that’s both related to your brand and likely to be ranked in the first page of search engine results.

Over the last two years, ICANN have been slowly releasing new domain extensions into the DNS (Domain Name System) to allow greater flexibility in choosing domain names. The new suffixes bring a wealth of opportunities for brand owners and brand managers alike. Below we have listed a few ways in which new gTLD’s can be harnessed and help build your online brand presence.

Foreign language Domains (IDN’s)

If your business is scaling into the global marketplace and entering into new markets, a non latin character script can be used in the targeted market. These domain names offer a great opportunity to reach new consumers using native script. For instance, Chinese or arabic users no longer need to switch from changing their keyboard functions. Registering new non-Latin gTLD script will greatly increase your global reach and online presence.

Geographical domains

The newest trends in marketing today involve localisation. Increasingly, search engines like Google are giving greater weight to to geographical closeness to the user and give greater preference to search results based on geographical nearness. Adopting new ccTLD’s (country code top level domains) into your domain portfolio will assist in SEO. New ccTLD’s now available include .PARIS , .London , .Tokyo. These ccTLD’s will greatly enhance your SEO ranking and also your international web presence.

Customer Care Capability

Smart brands are harnessing the potentiality of new gTLD’s and integrating it with their customer care practice. New gTLD extensions allow a targeted approach to create online communities based on similar or shared interests. for example . Pizza , .Wine , .Vin , .Irish , .Swiss were created to further assist in target customer segment.

Enhanced security for brands and consumers.

Many new gTLD’s have been released that will lend greater security on the web for consumers and protect against the selling of counterfeit goods and products. For instance, .Pharmacy is a particular new gTLD that only accredited, legitimate pharmacist with proven credentials can register. This process of proving your legitimacy will bring about safer ways for consumers to shop online and indeed protect online pharmaceutical brands in the digital space.

Building brand value and protecting brand equity

Protecting your trademark is essential to the success of your brand. Furthermore, protecting your brand equity is key to protecting your brand in the digital space. Brand owners and brand managers need to think long-term when it comes to brand positioning. For example, as part of business development strategy brand managers should consider new markets that they may want to enter into in the future. It is important to have this in mind when optimising your domain portfolio, new gTLD, ccTLD’s and IDN’s all have to considered in a holistic approach to protecting your digital assets.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection
For more information email: brand

Search engine giant, Google has dominated newspapers around the world this week with it’s striking revelation that it has created a new parent holding company – Alphabet. As a well established brand, Google will continue to use it’s world renowned name for it’s search and other search related subsidiaries. Speculators suggest the reasoning behind this sudden restructuring is to minimise risk to each individual company that will housed under the Alphabet umbrella. For many years the worlds most famous search engine has been investing in new ventures and R&D, drone development, medical care and automated car transport.

So why is all this relevant to brand management, marketing and business development? CEO and co-founder Larry page, has made a bold move in choosing an unusual name, and indeed distinct domain name for the new parent company – This curious choice of domain extension .xyz has left many confused and bewildered. Following convention, surely would have been a safer, more preferred choice. New theories are emerging on this bizarre and mysterious decision.

Speculators suggest Google is revolutionising the nature of branding. Stepping away from traditional modes of in-your-face branding where logos, trademarks and all associated brand imagery would be plastered over goods, unmissable to the eye, new trends amongst some of the worlds leading brands suggest a change in previous practice. A paper recently released, ‘The Rise of Inconspicuous Consumption’ by professors Belk, Eckhardt and Wilson illustrates a stark change in the relationship between consumer and branded products. In contrast to the blatant branding of the 1980’s and 1990’s where consumers wanted to overtly show-off high end luxury goods as a symbol of status and accomplishment, new trends have been developing in todays market.

Emerging consumer trends suggest a preference for unobtrusively and subtly marked products. Luxury brands are aware of this behavioural change in todays consumer. Essentially, less is more. Apple’s iconic logo is instantly recognisable even without it’s name. It’s products are characterised by simplicity and sharpness of design. Tiffany has stripped it’s brand right down to a simple “T”.

Google are somewhat contributing to this trend. They could choose any number of new gTLD’s .global, .tech, .business or alternatively purchased from BMW. It’s not as if capital is lacking. Instead they have opted for a different and somewhat vague, understated extension. Since the news exploded a few days ago, the .xyz registry has seen an exponential rise in domain registrations. Fears are spreading that Alphabet’s strategic move may encourage and increase in cyber-squatting and phishing.

Whatever the outcome of this unexpected branding endeavour, the move marks a significant step away from the dominance of the days. The jury is out on the success of the new gTLD rollout initiated by ICANN since the end of 2013. Nonetheless, Google’s bold move somewhat endorses the positive potentiality of new gTLD’s in future brand management, marketing and business development.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection

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